Ailsa’s challenge is Symbol and for this time of year, I’ve chosen the Philippine “parol“.
Yes we all have Christmas trees also but the parol or Christmas lantern symbolizes the star that led the Three Kings to the Infant Jesus in Bethlehem and it signifies the Filipino Christmas spirit. Every home has at least one parol and if you travel at night you can see all of them lit up.
When I was in grade school, we were taught how to make them out of bamboo sticks, strings, paste and papel de japon (Japanese rice paper) or cellophane in different colors. We also learned to make tassels on the two bottom ends of the star.
The commercially made ones are more elaborate with cut out patterns like lace. Nowadays many parols are made with capiz shells or mother of pearl and with lights inside.
But no matter how small or humble one’s parol, everyone is proud to hung them in their windows.
Here’s an excerpt from MyParol.com as to the history of the parol in Philippines’ Advent tradition:
“The word parol (pronounced “pah-roll” with a rolling “r”) comes from the Spanish word for lantern, farol. According to World Book’s Christmas in the Philippines, the roots of the parol can be found in the Mexican piñata. The piñata came to Spain from Italy in the 1300’s, spread to Mexico and finally came to the Philippines when the Spaniards brought Christianity to the islands. The book A Child’s Pasko: Christmas in the Philippines explains that the parol was originally used to light the way to church to attend the daily Misas de Aguinaldo, or Gift Masses, which begin on the 16th of December, and ends with the Misa de Gallo, or “Mass of the Rooster” at midnight of Christmas eve. The midnight mass is followed by a usually lavish meal at home, which is always anticipated by the kids. The first Misa de Aguinaldo that is held at dawn on December 16th marks the official start of the Christmas season.”
My parol was Mom’s. Because of its delicate nature, she had to handcarry it on the plane. She wanted to have a parol even in the snow prone Illinois. But we hang it inside our home to protect it from the elements. When she passed away, I carried it with me everywhere. My sister has one too which I hope she’ll remember to hung in her window.